Team HTC-Columbia's women cyclists' Belgium trip is complicated by volcano

The closure of Europe’s air space because of the erupting volcano in Iceland forced four of six women cyclists competing for San Luis Obispo’s Team HTC-Columbia to find other ways to get Belgium for a race on Wednesday.

Americans Kim Anderson and Evelyn Stevens arrived in Belgium before the volcano began erupting. But Judith Arndt and Luise Keller of Germany, Noemi Cantele of Italy and Linda Villumsen of New Zealand had to use trains and autos to get from various parts of Europe to the race.

“Judith came by train from Leipzig, (Germany), Noemi and Linda drove by car from Milan (Italy), Luise got the train to Berlin from the Czech Republic and then hired a car from there,” said women’s team manager Ronny Lauke. “It’s been quite tricky for them to get here, but they all made a big effort.”

HTC-Columbia, based in San Luis Obispo, will have its women riders compete in a World Cup event, the Fleche Wallone in Huy, Belgium. It covers 68 miles and features six major climbs, including the 19 percent gradient up the Mur de Huy, or Wall of Huy.